1. The White Dog is a constant presence throughout the book—an important part of the novel but not in the forefront of the action. What does the White Dog mean to you?
2. What did you think of the way the story was told from varying points of view, alternating between chapters? Was this an effective way to tell this story?
3. In talking about Amen, Isaac says he understands why a woman could love him, "He'd mastered fear. He knew what his life was being lived for " (p. 47). Discuss the different forms of masculinity evidenced by the characters of Amen, Isaac, Lawrence, Hasse and Ian.
4. Isaac says, "Every person alive thinks they are the center of the universe, that they are everything, when in fact each of us is less than nothing" (p. 48). Do you agree?
5. Discuss the role of marriage and marital fidelity among the characters in this novel. What types of marriages and unions are forged and tested in the novel?
6. Isaac is a refugee, displaced from his home and family by necessity. Alice is an expatriate, living far from her native Cincinnati by choice. They both miss their homes. How does living as outsiders affect Alice and Isaac?
7. Alice is a part of a community of white Americans and Europeans working in southern Africa. Are they helping or hurting the native people?
8. Isaac has a great sense of duty and obligation to his family back in South Africa. He holds himself to high standards of integrity and is committed to providing a better life for his family. How does his sense of duty compare with those of the young men and women in this culture?
9. Ian has never been able to imagine a conventionally domestic life for himself. If his story hadn't ended as it did, do you believe that he and Alice would have been able to create a life together?
10. How much did you know about apartheid, the African National Congress and the political situation in South Africa before reading this novel? What did you learn from Isaac's story?
11. When Alice and Ian head off together for their time in the Tsodilo Hills, he shows her his journal in which he has recorded a story of creation from the San Bushmen: "The San people say this is where the world began...." (p. 173). What similarities does this creation story have to others you know?
12. Do you have hope for Isaac at the end of the novel?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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